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Rick Scott enters race for Senate GOP leader

<i>Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) boards an elevator between votes at the U.S. Capitol on February 12
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) boards an elevator between votes at the U.S. Capitol on February 12

By Jack Forrest, CNN

(CNN) — Florida Sen. Rick Scott announced his bid to be the next Senate GOP leader on Wednesday, putting him in a three-way secret ballot race that will be decided after the November elections.

Scott has been a longtime supporter of former President Donald Trump and has maintained an icy relationship with GOP leadership in the Senate, including with outgoing Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, whose leadership position he is again gunning for after losing a long-shot bid to replace the Kentucky Republican in 2022.

Scott, a first-term senator, would be considered an underdog in the race, which includes GOP Sens. John Thune, the minority whip, and John Cornyn, a former whip. The two other men have for months jockeyed to tip the scales in a race with no clear front-runner as their colleagues in the Senate weigh the candidates’ fundraising abilities, leadership styles and their relationships with Trump — though the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has yet to endorse a replacement for McConnell, who has said he will step down as GOP leader in November.

On Wednesday night, Scott told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that he had spoken to Trump earlier in the day about the need for change in the chamber, adding that the former president was “excited I’m getting into the race.”

“I am a change agent. I was a change agent in business. I did turn arounds. I changed Florida,” Scott said. “We’re going to change the Senate. We’re going to be the Senate that helps Donald Trump get his conservative agenda done.”

Scott has long been a close Trump ally and quickly endorsed the former president over his home-state governor, Ron DeSantis, for president last year. He was one of several Republican senators who objected to the certification of 2020 election results and has been a constant defender of Trump in the face of his legal troubles.

A former CEO of an embattled health care company, Scott has used his wealth to help fund his campaigns, serving two terms as the governor of Florida before his election to the Senate in 2018. He’s facing reelection this year in a red-trending state that Democrats hope to put in play.

Scott, then the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, became a pariah to some in his own party in 2022, when he released a proposal that would have sunset all federal programs in five years unless Congress extended them. Even McConnell quickly disavowed the plan, while Democrats pounced on it as a way to accuse Republicans of attempting to undercut popular programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Months later, Scott walked back major sections of that plan to shield many of those popular programs — like Social Security and Medicare — from being sunset. Though, Democrats looking to turn his Senate seat blue in 2024 have continued to hit Scott on that unpopular proposal.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Eric Bradner and Steve Contorno contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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